The Diablo IV Team On Testing and Its Live Service Plans

Diablo IV’s Game Director Joe Shely and Diablo General Manager Rod Fergusson on how important testing the game from start to finish has been for the team, and how they’re managing the transition to a live service.

[Music] I think it's really interesting that one Of the things coming to Blizzard and Coming to the Diablo team and seeing a Lot of the round the kind of way that They do testing you know there's a Phrase that's used a lot Um around soup tasting which is this Notion of oh we're going to put it Together but you always have to taste The soup and it doesn't need more salt Doesn't need more flavor do we did we do Too much of something or not enough of Another you can't eat this soup standing Up your knees buckle And this is probably I mean I've been Making games for like 22 years now and This D4 is the game that I felt like has Been more holistically tested than any Other game I've been a part of because It's really part of the philosophy of Blizzard and of this team in particular To be able to go in and be able to go Okay we can play from beginning to end Let's play and so whether that's oh the Whole team is getting the ability to Bring the full game at home over Christmas to play it and give feedback And then the notion of we're going to Allow the entire company a blizzard to Go and play it and give feedback and now We're going to allow all of ABK to go Play it and give feedback and we just Went through friends and family which is

All of ABK plus their friends and family To go play it and give feedback on the Full game and now we're going into end Game beta which is going to be even more Because we're going we went out and Looked at who are people who are Engaging with the previous Diablo games In sort of the rich end game systems That are there and giving we want to Hear what they think of D4 and then We're going to be going into open Beta You know next year where we're going to Be you know trying to crush our servers And trying to get as much feedback as we Can there and so all along as part of This iteration you know and on top of That we're doing Global insights and User research and we're bringing doing Surveys and bringing people in for user Testing so a lot of this iteration is Not just us sitting alone in our offices Coming up with a new idea it's born out Of feedback from the blogs feedback from People playing whether it be on the team To the company to friends and family to Just a lot of inputs into it and it's Really I think you can see that if if You've been part of it over the last few Years you can see that iteration and Refinement happen because of those tests Yeah you know you mentioned end game Beta Um this is one of the first times that We've tested like how to test

Specifically for the end game and the Reason uh we think it's really important Is because you know we talked about how Diablo 4 is a live service how we have Really exciting things to to come with Seasons how they're going to be really Big and crunchy and meaningful so you Know it's it's really important not just To support that but also because we know That we have so many players who enjoy Playing Diablo for you know way past the Campaign really getting into the the end Game systems and so this gives us an Opportunity to you know test the end Game systems before we get to launch and Then make adjustments you were talking About players getting through the DTR 2R Very quickly so this will give us an Opportunity to to sort of uh test the Test where we are with that early enough Before release that we can make some Small adjustments to the two end game Systems and really make sure that when The game comes out and players finish The campaign there's some content there That has had some some testing against It and had some some adjustments made so It's they're not beta testing it at Launch yeah I mean Diablo is a systems Game right that's what we talk about Like you know look at my experience with D3 I played D3 for hundreds of hours Like hunt literally hundreds of hours And I've played the campaign in D3

Probably twice stay a while and listen Foreign And so that notion of like yeah it has To be a kick-ass campaign you have to Have great context and great story know What it is that why the world is the way It is and and set it all up but you're Unleashing players after they complete The campaign you're unleashing them into A game that hopefully will entertain Them for thousands of hours and so in The past we really haven't had that Opportunity for people just to go into It and say okay this is the starting Point because this is certainly not the End this is not where like this is the Beginning of where this live service Becomes in that thousand hours starts Not where it ends and so but we want it To be to feel rich because we're going To have seasons and you're going to have Seasons are going to change up the game And so you know there'll be lots of Stuff to add incrementally as we go but We want to know that when that person Finishes a campaign that they Immediately have something really cool To go and do and start to engage with Those systems even more fully as they Worked their way to beat that level 100 Boss Foreign We've been trying to be a little kg just Because you know one of the things that

We're still working through is when you Work on a live service the notion of What you want and when you want it the The pressure starts to change because You know when you're building a game Like we are now it's really focus a lot Of focuses on what you want like what's The right game and how do we get the Right quality and all the features that We want to have and so you know we set Our date based on making sure we can get What we want to be considered what D4 Should be but when you start that train Of now we're a service and people are Expecting Seasons where you I think Succeed on players Minds is having Consistency to know oh every three Months there's a new season coming and So if you go like well my ambition is I Want to do a little more here so it's Actually going to be three months and Three weeks and then you start to lose That promise to the player and they Don't know when to predict or how to Think about it and so we our Our Intention is to have a heartbeat is to Have a Cadence of content that players Can rely on and know as both from a Seasoned perspective and from an Expansion perspective and so that's Something we're working towards so as we You know we're still in the finishing Touches of development and we're still Working through that how do you build a

Season to ensure that you can deliver it In a timely way with the right scope and Quality Um that's why you're hearing a little Softer language and saying it's Definitely every three months but I Think when you look at historically what Has happened like those sorts of things Are generally quarterly seasons is where It feels good from a Diablo perspective And so I would say like up to four but We're trying to allow ourselves a little Leeway especially coming a transition From Shipping a game to in to Transitioning into a live service is one Of the hardest transitions I think Because you have a team that's just come Off of of shipping a game there's an Immediate demand for making sure that You're ahead of the game for live you Know for more content that's ready to go And there's always this pressure to pull From that content those people to come And work on the main game it's like why Are you over there I could use you over Here and so that transition from game to Services is a really tricky and Um part of that development and so That's kind of why you hear a little bit Of softer language until we get through That transition and then that language Will harden quite a bit the design of D3 Seasons is certainly a foundational Element for us here you know one of the

Really cool things about the three Seasons is that you get a fresh start With every season you know you get that Opportunity to try it you know if we Were talking about how different all the Classes are you get to try a different Class or try a different build per class And try it in an environment where there Are changes to the meta or other changes And where we see that going with Diablo IV is Um not just changes that we can do you Know Rod spoke about uh you know having A team of people who are working on that So it's not just changes that we can do To The Meta but also additional features That can come in you know Um with seasons and really making them Um Uh Change up the gameplay of Diablo in Meaningful ways and exciting ways and Having exciting new things to check out Of your time so yeah what I love about Seasons too is it allows you to test Things and try things and so if Something's working you know as opposed To oh we're only delivering a game every Years and so you kind of you don't have The ability to sort of find and iterate Over time and so we can try a thing in Seasons and go hey what do we think About this and people go oh this is my Actually this is my new favorite thing

And in game that this thing you I'm like Oh really okay well let's we're going to Keep it now and we're going to go and do Something else or oh we can refine Things that maybe you know like it just Allows us to play a little bit more but I love like what I think brings a lot of People back for D3 is that that Fresh Start that Joe talked about that notion Of Oh you've changed the meta and I want to Kind of go and experience that Progression again but maybe as a Different class or with the same class With a different build because there's New skills or new legendaries or new Ways to experience the game and I think That's going to be a big part of our Season sort of thinking as well is like Okay like how can I come back and Revisit this and play it in a different Way in a different class with new Features and new content Because where we're at right now is just We're moments away from in game beta Going and I think that's again as Joe Talked about earlier that's the first Time that we're really doing this kind Of a test and It's part of the soup tasting that's Part of that do we need more salt do we Need more pepper kind of thing all right Give me a taste Oh my God oh my God I got a snail but

We're feeling really good coming off of All the other tests that we've had like Again we've had the ability for people a Lot of people to play from prologue to Epilogue and that's that but when the One of the things that's hard to capture Is when you think about endgame when we Talk about people who play for hundreds If not thousands of hours in the game It's really hard to get that kind of Testing because you get okay You're playing a beta you can play for a Couple of weekends or you can play for a Couple weeks and you're not necessarily Putting in a thousand hours or whatever Right and so We wanted to have a time to just soak in That experience okay there's no campaign For you you're just you're just all you Have are the things that will be Available to you in game whether it be Nightmare dungeons or Hell tide or PVP Or the whisper bounty system like these Are things that are We want to make sure can really hold up For players that once they finish the Campaign Um and that's a really exciting place to Be you know like I said I To have a game that's been playable from Prologue to epilogue for so long is Really different for me it's really Refreshing and it's really been about How we continue to polish and bring it

Up and bring it up and bring it up and Find those iterations and it's been also Really interesting that with the Philosophy of the Diablo team to be able To talk to players quarterly Historically I haven't done that that's Not something we've done that's sort of Brought them along on the journey we've Um and or in testing has tended to be Like here's a multiplayer beta for some Weekend it hasn't been hey we're gonna Get beta testing on the whole game we're Going to let you soak in it for 100 Hours and tell us what you think kind of Thing and so that's really been Informative from a design perspective But that's kind of where our big push is Now like we feel good about where we are With the campaign a lot of us Implemented a lot of EOS implemented We're sort of finishing up the Cinematic Part of the story We're honing in on making sure the end Game is where it is we're making sure We're that we have things in place that We're we've already started you know Season one work and those sorts of Things up so we can be prepared for when The players finish that they're ready to Be able to you know have more they're Waiting for them when they when they Finish the campaign and Um and the first season starts so I Don't know was dessert like

Feeling feeling good right now honestly I think it's a great summary I mean it's A very exciting time for Diablo 4 and It's an exciting time for the franchise Overall Sanctuary Hey [Music]

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